Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email during the 2024 campaign — 4.14.24

Your Sunday buffet of #Florida politics, food, culture & more.

Good morning and welcome back to “Brunch,” a pop-up email about the 2024 campaign, as well as other essential information about Florida politics.

I thought that since it’s one of the best sporting days of the year (The Masters, the finals of the Monte Carlo Open, the last day of the NBA regular season, etc.), you might enjoy a quick read after settling down on the couch.

The Masters helped this weekend to be one of the best for sports this year.

Let’s start by offering belated happy birthday wishes to CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Be sure to check out this week’s picks for the Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics (please click here).

Now, enjoy Brunch!

— Yes on 4 campaign kickoff —

Abortion rights supporters gathered in Orlando Saturday to formally launch the campaign to get Floridians to back a ballot measure that would protect the right to an abortion in Florida’s Constitution.

Background: Supporters met at the Walt Disney Amphitheater in Orlando, hearing from speakers and marching around Lake Eola. The Florida Supreme Court has already approved the referendum to appear on ballots this November, but the measure needs 60% support to pass.

Abortion rights advocates launch an all-out effort to pass Amendment 4.

Voicing support: “Today we’re sending an unmistakable message that Floridians from all walks of life are banding together to overturn the six-week ban and put these decisions back in the hands of Florida families and their doctors, not extreme politicians,” said Dr. Marian Sampson, OB/GYN with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

Final word: “The majority of Floridians believe that we deserve the freedom to make personal medical decisions without interference from politicians,” said Danielle Tallafuss, who had an abortion due to a fetal anomaly in 2020. “And they will make that known loud and clear this November with the passage of Amendment 4.”

— Taking back Florida —

The Florida Democratic Party is also making moves across the state this weekend to increase voter registration and re-enroll Democrats who prefer voting by mail.

Coordinated campaign: These efforts are part of the Democrats’ “coordinated campaign,” where higher-profile campaign operations are working together to help make the state competitive going forward. The registration and door-knocking work took place in Brevard, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Osceola counties Saturday, with more to come today.

Orange County: Winter Garden Commissioner Ron Mueller will help work in Orange County from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Ron Mueller hits the streets to shore up support for the FDP.

Palm Beach County: Sens. Lori Berman and Bobby Powell will team up with Rep. Joe Cassello in Palm Beach County from 2-5 p.m.

Duval County: From 3:30 to 5 p.m., Jacksonville City Council member Rahman Johnson will be helping boost Democrats’ Duval numbers.

— Walking the walk —

Sen. Lauren Book’s ambitious “Walk in My Shoes” campaign to raise awareness about child safety and abuse prevention is well underway. A strut across Pasco County is scheduled for Sunday, and 10 daily walks are in the rearview.

A passel of organizations like Bikers Against Child Abuse and Pasco Kids First are joining her on the monthlong, 1,500-mile trek from Key West to Panama City. Book launched the initiative in 2010, and it’s grown every year since.

There is no ‘weather permitting’ in Lauren Book’s ‘Walk in My Shoes’ campaign.

Several fellow lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are involved, too. Among them are Sens. Berman, Alexis Calatayud, Shevrin Jones, Debbie Mayfield, Tom Wright, and Reps. Robin Bartleman, Hillary Cassel, Casello, Randy Fine, Christine Hunschofsky and Alex Rizo.

“It’s been a wonderful journey so far,” Book said. “We’ve had a lot of incredible support, a lot of miles.”

Friday saw the walk cross from Naples to Fort Myers in honor of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and the late First Gentleman of the Senate, John Passidomo. The couple were integral to the opening of a local children’s advocacy center.

“President Passidomo was our first legislator to sign up,” Book said. “When we lost the First Gentleman, we didn’t expect her to come out and walk, but her entire staff came out and we had a moment of silence and a prayer for John.”

Walk in My Shoes” is run through Book’s nonprofit foundation, “Lauren’s Kids,” and coincides with National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Click here for more information on each stop and to register to participate.

— Running hot —

When Sen. Blaise Ingoglia isn’t working on policy, he’s improving his poker game. Not that it needs much work. The Spring Hill Republican just came in eighth place at a World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas.

Sizable pot: That earned him $22,000. That’s a solid prize, but he also had to watch the winner cash out with $192,000.

Blaise Ingoglia works on his poker face.

Climbing the ranks: But he’s building a reputation. This finish comes after he took second place and $18,470 at a smaller tournament at the Hard Rock in Tampa. Since he started playing professional poker, he’s earned more than $444,000, ranking his lifetime earnings at 3,282 among American players.

Floor to table? Asked if politics has prepared him for poker, Ingoglia doesn’t hesitate. “I always say the difference between poker and politics is there’s a lot less lying and a lot less cheating going on in poker.”


This must-read piece by Floodlight News shows how Patrick Bainter, a top consultant for Florida Senate Republicans, signed off on Frank Artiles’ shady plot to prop up a sham candidate to help oust now-former Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez.

Deposition disclosure: Bainter revealed this in a deposition, telling a prosecutor that he OK’d Artiles’ moves in two competitive Senate races in 2020. Given his disgraceful history, Artiles’ making such a slimy move shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Frank Artiles’ shady shenanigans doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

‘Knock yourself out’: When Artiles approached Bainter with the proposal, he got the OK. “He said he thought that was something he could do and do well,” Bainter said, according to the Floodlight report. “Great. Go knock yourself out.”

Stealing a seat: Rodríguez lost his Senate District 37 race to now-Sen. Ileana Garcia by just 32 votes, while a ghost candidate with the same last name pulled in nearly 6,400 votes. In the other contest Artiles meddled in, Senate District 10, Republican Jason Brodeur won by more votes than the ghost candidate pulled in.

Yet another shameful stunt by Artiles, who is facing charges to add to his résumé as one of the most disreputable members of The Process in recent memory.

— Casey’s recipe request —

First Lady Casey DeSantis is asking Florida families to submit kid-friendly recipes for a project that will benefit the Hope Florida Fund.

Nourishing nonprofits: The Hope Florida Fund aims to “harness the charity of the private sector” to aid nonprofits across the state. The collaborative effort is designed to help Floridians achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Casey DeSantis is calling for kid-friendly recipes.

Cooking something up: “In the DeSantis family, we love cooking with the kids,” the First Lady said. “I am asking Floridians to share their favorite kid-friendly recipes to be included in a project that will benefit the Hope Florida Fund. The Governor and I look forward to submissions from parents and cooks in the Sunshine State.”

How to help: Those with something to share can submit their recipes here. Submissions are being accepted until June 3. “Special consideration will be given to recipes that are specifically tailored for kids and incorporate the cuisine of a region in Florida,” per the announcement.

— Executive time —

Lawyer Chris Lyon is taking a professional step up, being elevated to serve as an executive shareholder with Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.

Workhorse: Lyon is a lobbyist based in the firm’s Tallahassee office. He represents clients in front of the Legislature, Cabinet and agencies in Tallahassee, serving associations, local governments and corporations and working as the firm’s primary lobbyist for business in front of the Legislature.

Chris Lyon is moving up to executive shareholder with Lewis, Longman & Walker.

In good company: He will now work alongside fellow executive shareholders Tara Duhy and Lori Killinger. Michelle Diffenderfer serves as the firm’s President.

Hard work pays off: Lyon has come a long way since joining the firm in 2003, just three years after earning his law degree from Florida State. After 20 years, and a lot of grueling Sessions, Lyon is getting this well-deserved promotion.

— First time’s the charm —

Firefighter Ryan Huntington demonstrated this past week that one shot is sometimes all you need when he trounced two more politically experienced opponents in a race for the Biscayne Park Commission.

Ryan Huntington vowed to hit the ground running if he won Tuesday. Image via Ryan Huntington.

— He scored 79% of the vote to defeat former Commissioner Daniel Samaria and veteran GOP operative Carlos Trejo Pereirea for a seven-month stint on the Commission. Huntington said he’ll run for re-election in November, when three seats will be up for grabs for two- or four-year terms.

— In nearby Miami Lakes, lawyer Bryan Morera and former Lakes-by-the-Sea Town Manager Esther Colon are heading to an April 30 runoff for the right to serve on the Town Council through November 2026. Morera and Colon took 29.5% and 22.7% of the vote, respectively, to outpace two others vying for the Seat 6.

— A recount was called Colon and social worker Hector Abad’s vote totals fell within 0.5% of one another. On Friday, Miami-Dade County Deputy Supervisor of Elections Robert Rodriguez confirmed with Florida Politics that Colon was moving ahead after scoring eight more votes.

— Green Jacket time —

The final round of The Masters is today (Mother Nature permitting). The Green Jacket will be awarded, and golf immortality will fall on one man (2 p.m. ET, CBS).

Tiger tamed: Tiger Woods’ return to Augusta National garnered most of the attention early in the week. Playing in just his second tournament of 2024, Woods posted an inconsistent one-over-par score in the first two rounds, good enough to make the cut for a record-setting 24th straight Masters Tournament. But his play collapsed in the third round, shooting 82 and finishing the day at 11 over par. Woods carded eight bogeys and two double bogeys in the round.

Tiger Woods returns to Agusta for his 24th consecutive Masters.

Final pairing: The battle at the top of the leaderboard is between two-time Major champion Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler, the world’s NoNo. 1 player. Scheffler shot 71 in the third round to finish the day at 7 under par. Morikawa shot 69, the second-best round of the day, to finish at 6 under. Those two will play in the final pairing today.

Defending champion Jon Rahm, who jumped to LIV Golf in December, eight months after his win at Augusta National, shot an even-par 72 in his third round. He is 5 over for the tournament.

— Seminoles’ baseball on a roll —

Florida State is dominating on the diamond. After sweeping a three-game series against Miami this weekend, the Seminoles (30-5) are ranked as high as seventh in the nation. FSU completed a season sweep of Florida last week, then handled their other in-state rivals, the Hurricanes.

FSU baseball dominates the diamond.

A home run season? FSU has a chance to win 50 games for the first time since 2012. Under second-year head coach Link Jarrett, the Seminoles have a chance to return to the College World Series for the first time since Mike Martin’s final season as head coach in 2019.

Next up: The Noles host Mercer in a nonconference match Tuesday.

— Florida’s QB of the future —

The Gators’ spring game Saturday included the highly anticipated debut of prized quarterback recruit D.J. Lagway. The anticipated backup to Graham Mertz completed 12 of 21 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a mostly controlled setting.

The Gators introduce the highly prized QB D.J. Lagway. Image via Tomahawk Nation.

Bright future: Lagway impressed with his accuracy and touch on some of the throws. He demonstrated the potential that made him the top quarterback recruit in the nation. Mertz finished the day 15 of 27 for 243 yards with a touchdown. Both quarterbacks threw an interception each.

The U: The Miami Hurricanes also held their spring game with major questions at quarterback. Washington State transfer Cam Ward led the Hurricanes on a touchdown drive on the first possession of the game, connecting with Isaiah Horton.

Other options: Albany transfer Reese Poffenbarger is expected to be the backup to Ward. He completed a third-down conversation on what was perhaps the best pass of the day by a Hurricanes’ quarterback.

Florida State holds the annual Garnett and Gold game this upcoming Saturday.

— Brunching out —

Hayward House is breathing new life into one of the best locations in the Capital City: the former home of Andrews Downtown, on the corner of South Adams and West Jefferson streets.

Backstory: Entrepreneur Ashley Chaney blends Southern tradition with contemporary fare and global flavors in her American bistro. In the 1920s, this historic location was a home belonging to Dr. Thomas Hayward and his family, hence the name. Once again, it’s a hot spot for networking, date nights, power meetings or a friends’ night out.

Southern tradition meats global flavors at Hayward House. Image via Tallahassee Table.

Setting: Touches like brass sconces, soft lighting and cozy booths add a homey vibe with a dash of sophistication. There’s a full bar, an iconic patio setting and a private room. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily along with weekend brunch.

The menu: Executive chef, Blake Shine, a Tallahassee native and Florida State alumni, creates an eclectic brunch menu. Look for Southern fried chicken and steak and eggs as well as the Middle Eastern dish shakshuka or eggplant katsu. Two don’t-miss treats are the smoked Caesar salad and French onion soup.

Beverages: The full bar serves wine (by the glass/bottle), beer (with local choices) and fun cocktails such as a Tupelo Old Fashioned, Under the Magnolia and a Negroni Spritz.

Details: Hayward House, 228 S. Adams St., 850-825-7081. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (brunch to 4 p.m.) Saturday, 10:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday brunch. Happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

— Brunching out, part deux —

Casa Tapas & Cantina is known for its small plates and cocktails, but the all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast buffet is also an impressive feast.

Backstory: Casa Tapas & Cantina, located in the former space of Maria Livingston’s Steakhouse, is one of three restaurants owned by Genaro Ramirez and his wife, Claudia. Their other businesses are C|G Margaritas & Cocina at 800 Thomasville Rd., and their original restaurant, Casa Grande Bar & Grill, at 3212 Apalachee Pkwy.

Sweet tooth for brunch? Casa Tapas & Cantina has you covered. Image via Tallahassee Table.

Setting: The restaurant looks like a special occasion destination. It’s elegantly appointed, even for a buffet. Items are spread out so you’re not jostling with diners to get more food. Trays were replenished quickly.

The menu: The buffet offers about three dozen Spanish, Cuban and American dishes. If you have to eat eggs, there are a few versions. But you can also devour hearty fare such as roast pork, fish in Creole sauce, ropa vieja, beef picadillo, empanadas, rice and beans. Save room for dessert. You have two dozen choices, including flan, churros, tres leches and guava pastries.

Beverages: Casa Tapas has a full bar, coffee and juice,

Details: Casa Tapas & Cantina, 2705 Apalachee Pkwy.; 850-765-1770. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday brunch. Cost: $25, $15 for kids ages 2 to 10. A Cinco de Mayo brunch buffet will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704